Union Leader Richard Boyce Speaking Out Against the Ajax Mine Proposal at Recent Forum.
If I'm invited to an event related to the Ajax Mine proposal, whether pro or con, I try to attend. Ajax remains a huge issue in Kamloops, three years after it first came to public attention. KGHM International, the company behind Ajax, will be submitting an application to the BC and Canadian Environmental Assessment offices in early 2015. I think all of of us on city council recognize a responsibility to learn as much about this issue as possible.
Most recently, in mid April, I attended Richard Boyce's presentation on why he has decided to oppose Ajax. Richard is the President of the Steelworkers Union that represents the workers at Highland Valley Copper. He has been in the mining industry for 40 years. I have a lot of respect for Richard and his work in the community.
During the presentation, Richard urged city councillors who have not yet taken a position on Ajax to "get off the fence". I believe he said something to the effect that he would have a lot more respect for councillors, even if they supported the proposal, because at least people would know where we stand. I hope I heard that correctly. He obviously hopes all of us on council would be opposed.
TRU Professor Derek Cook, in the question and answer period, more explicitly tied councillors not taking a position to the November civic election, in my view basically advocating people not vote for councillors who have not yet come out opposed. Derek, in the past, has invited me to speak to his students and I appreciated that opportunity.
I would be totally remiss not to also mention here the efforts of Councillor Donovan Cavers, who sits next to me on council, and often asks whether I've "gotten of the fence yet".
I've thought about whether I should take a position on Ajax now. I have indeed had three years to consider the proposal. I am 95% sure I will take a position.
Respectfully, I am still really reluctant to take a position pro or con Ajax at this time for a couple of reasons:
- I also respect, appreciate, and represent on council many supporters of Ajax and their views are important to me as well.
- KGHM is still working out the detailed plan they are required to submit for environmental assesment. All that has and will come before that, in my mind, are drafts. I believe that what needs to be evaluated is the application for environmental assessment. These are the concrete proposals on which I will decide whether to support or not to support.
- After the appplication for environmental assessment is submitted, there is still time for council comment to have impact. Personally, I believe council comment will have more impact because we are now commenting on the actual concrete application as opposed to initial draft plans and proposals. The environmental assessment process allows for consultation after the application has been submitted and I think this comment period should be the most important and influential for the ultimate decision makers.
I appreciate all the advocacy on both sides of the Ajax debate. I hope we can keep it respectful and civil. I definitely want to make the case that city councillors who have not taken a side yet are doing so entirely in good faith, based on our own values and ways of working.